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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 13665
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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Once I offer my plea, can I change it later?

Customer Question

Once I offer my plea, can I change it later?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you. I'm sorry you've been waiting a bit.

Under California Penal Code Section 1018, a defendant is allowed to withdraw his or her guilty plea or no contest plea under certain circumstances. The defendant must demonstrate good cause and file a motion to withdraw a plea either before sentencing or within six months of being sentenced.

The defendant has a right to file a motion to withdraw a plea if he or she plead not guilty or no contest without an attorney. If the defendant had an attorney when pleading guilty or no contest, he or she may still be able to file a motion to withdraw a plea.

A defendant may file a motion to withdraw a plea if:

  • The defendant discovers that he or she is going to incur an unexpected penalty;
  • The defendant believes his or her attorney was incompetent; OR
  • The defendant realizes that he or she may be able to get a more favorable outcome by entering a not guilty plea.

A motion to withdraw a plea must show good cause for withdrawing a defendant’s guilty or no contest plea. The defendant must show clear and convincing evidence that the initial plea was entered as a result of some sort of incompetence, mistake or ignorance. Good cause to file a motion to withdraw a plea may include:

  • The defendant was not represented by an attorney entering the plea;
  • The defendant was not aware of all of the consequences of the plea (i.e. mandatory prison sentence, deportation or professional license suspension/revocation);
  • The defendant was coerced into making the plea;
  • The defendant was represented by an incompetent attorney when entering the plea; or
  • There was a language barrier or other hardship that caused the defendant to plead guilty or no contest.

Although I do not practice in California, in my experience, proving good cause is not easy. This is due to the fact that typically, when a defendant enters a plea, the court will go through a fairly lengthy/detailed series of questions to ensure that a defendant is not under the influence, that they realize they had the right to speak with a lawyer and consult with a lawyer, that they are making a plea voluntarily, that they understand what the plea means, and so forth.

As such, if you are considering filing a motion to withdraw your plea, I would strongly encourage you to consult with a lawyer first. Many lawyers offer free or low cost consultations and there is of course no obligation that you hire or be represented by a lawyer.

If you need clarification about my answer or additional information, please use the SEND or REPLY button to continue our conversation. Your satisfaction is my goal and I am here to help!

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You're telling me things I've already researched on my own & had the benefit of learning with an attorney through my credit union. I asked the question to see if you'd come up with something different than I already known. I'm already aware of what you've told me. Now I need to know how to get a refund since I've learned nothing new that I'd already explained in my original submit tap.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

With respect, I can only answer the question asked. I have no way of knowing what you do or don't know if you don't tell us. I don't know if you've spoken with someone or done research.

Furthermore, a lawyer cannot create law to "come up with something different." We can only tell you what the law says. That is why the lawyer you spoke with told you the same thing, I'm sure.

Contact customer service, and they'll be happy to process a refund for you. Good luck to you.

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